Difference between AOBRD and ELD

Difference between AOBRD and ELD

The deadline for all commercial truck and bus fleets to upgrade to ELDs passed on the 16th of December, 2019. If you were running the older Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs), you had to have shifted to the new ELD devices by then.

Some drivers and fleet managers are still confused, though. Why do you have to replace AOBRDs that are still in perfect working condition with expensive ELDs?

The basic functionality of the two types of devices is almost identical. In fact, before the mandate, all e-logging devices could be called ELDs or AOBRDs interchangeably.

The ELD mandate changed all that by defining a standard of what is acceptable as an ELD and what is not. This definition forms the difference between AOBRDs and ELD.

Definition of AOBRDs and ELDs

AOBRDs are defined under the law by the Driver’s Regulations in section § 395.15 as an electronic device that records a driver’s hours of service (HOS).

An ELD is a more robust and restrictive AOBRD. However, it will have much better functionality. Many also offer advanced features such as alerts, automated reminders, GPS location tracking, and more.

FMCSA certifies all ELDs that meet minimum qualifications, which you can find here. To qualify for this listing, an ELD must meet minimum criteria such as:

  • Connection to the truck’s engine to record engine and movement information.
  • Allow the driver to select duty status.
  • Display current duty status and HoS.
  • Present data to the driver and law enforcement in a way that is easily understood and transferable via local telematics. (e.g. Bluetooth).
  • Store collected data for at least three months in a secure location.
  • Ability to sense malfunction both in the device itself and in the engine
  • Protect data from alteration by anyone without authorization. Even then, an original copy must be kept.

These rules have brought about significant differences between AOBRDs and ELDs. It is also important to note that the former has since been grandfathered as of 16th December 2019 as far as FMCSA regulations are concerned.

Differences between AOBRDs and ELDs

The differences between AOBRDs and ELDs are best summed up in a table. Keep in mind that these devices are basically the same, except that ELDs are more advanced and have to follow more stringent regulations.

Integral synchronization with the vehicle is not required.Integral synchronization through the vehicle’s ECM port is mandatory.
Vehicle location is required only at every change of duty status. It can be manual or automated.Automatic location tracking is a must at the change of duty status, vehicle on/off, beginning and end of yard moves as well as personal use, and every 60 minutes when the vehicle is in motion.
Doesn’t have to have a display.The device must have a graphical display of HoS or through a printout.
Must be tamper-proof.Must be tamper-proof with additional protection through data check functions.
Yard moves and other special driving categories not addressed.Yard moves form a special driving category, which must be selected and deselected at will. The carrier can elect to use them or not to use them.
Edits not allowed.Edits allowed but must be annotated and original data preserved.
Driver certification not needed.Driver must certify data every 24 hrs.
Device malfunction not addressed.Devices must self-check regularly. Malfunctions must be reported to the carrier within 24 hours.
Unique username not required.Unique username and driver profile required for identification
Unassigned driving time is not addressed.Unassigned driving time must be approved by the driver and back office.
Reports to the FMCSA are not mandated.Reports must be made to FMCSA via email in an output file.

These are the major and most common differences between ELDs and AOBRDs. The FMCSA’s chief target in implementing the ELD mandate is higher accuracy when recording HoS and RODS, as well as to improve transparency in reporting. 

Why ELDs are Better

For fleet owners and managers, ELDs need not be a big hurdle. In fact, they can bring amazing benefits to your business if implemented right. 

There are numerous ELD models on the market from different manufactures today. Some are basic, offering minimum features as required for FMCSA and DOT compliance. 

The bigger majority are designed to bring you greater functionality, such as fleet tracking and management solutions. That way, you can have seamless e-logging, improved driving performance, fuel economy, and better vehicle maintenance.

Final Words

ELDs have made AOBRDs obsolete. As of 2020, your fleet should be running an ELD model that is certified by FMCSA. If you are, we’re sure that you are already reaping its benefits. As technology moves ahead, so must we. Even if we’re truckers!

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